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How to support your disabled customers this Purple Tuesday

A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) statement of intent is a key step in ensuring your DEI strategy is anchored within the overall business strategy. Organisations that have worked through the processes below are ready to write their DEI statement of intent.

6 people standing in a line against a white background. Their faces are hidden by colourful speech bubble shapes that they are holding up.

There are 16 million people in the UK with a disability and with 70% of disabled customers choosing not to return to an organisation after receiving poor customer service, the commercial power of accessibility and inclusion could not be clearer.

Purple Tuesday, celebrated this year on Tuesday 7th November, raises awareness on the challenges faced by disabled customers and highlights the need for inclusive and accessible shopping and service experiences.

In this blog we share a few top tips of things to consider for a more accessible customer experience:

1. Review the accessibility of your website and venues

Technology: Ensure your websites and apps have accessible designs and are compatible with accessibility tools that support text-to-speech, keyboard-accessible navigation, 200% and 400% zoom and more.

Consider whether aspects such as colours, fonts, italics, bold, support are effective, and ensure images are tagged with alternative text and closed captions are included with video content. Don’t forget that this applies to any content you share on social media, too!

In-person customer experiences: Designing or adapting your premises with physical accessibility in mind includes the provision of things like

  • disabled parking places
  • accessible entrances, doorways and aisles
  • sufficient space to move about in meeting rooms, or rooms with lots of furniture
  • clear signposting to lifts
  • accessible toilets with changing facilities, too

 

2. Provide inclusive ways of communicating 

In-person support: Delivering inclusive services to disabled customers could include practical steps like identifying the importance of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard scheme, how to use hearing loops, or the “Six Second Rule” – pausing and allowing others to process information and respond.

It is important to avoid assumptions and communicate directly with disabled customers, rather than opting to talk to the person who might be accompanying them. Training staff on disability awareness, British Sign Language and providing Mental Health First Aid training can also equip staff with skills to communicate effectively and inclusively with disabled customers.

Online and virtual support: Provide a range of contact methods, as customers will have different preferences in terms of communicating via live chat, email, social media, or telephone. This will also provide customers with assistive technology or services with various options that may be more suited towards their needs.

3. Listen to your disabled customers, don’t assume!

Disabilities can be both visible and hidden, and so can the challenges faced by disabled customers. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness of challenges, and approach customer service with empathy and respect. Actively listening to customers, taking in feedback, and implementing suggestions are great ways to hear the perspectives of disabled customers and make impactful changes to elevate their customer experience.

Treating disabled customers with autonomy and maintaining a flexible approach will allow them to share whether they need additional support to meet their specific needs. Don’t worry about making mistakes or being unsure of what to do, asking customers how you can help can provide a safe space for them to communicate what works for them.

Not just customers 

Of course, these actions do not just stop at customer experiences. It is important to live and breathe these inclusive values internally too to support your employees and suppliers.  For more information on inclusive employer practices Рfrom auditing policies and practices, learning about inclusive behaviours, supporting staff with reasonable adjustments, and evidencing your work in this space with DEI accreditation Рplease contact us on enquiries@theclearcompany.co.uk

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